QDR: US after China, not Osama?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by AndyPipkin, Jan 24, 2006.

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  1. Probably the right move in the medium term - China poses a threat to US supremacy Al Queda can only dream of.

    QDR: China Tops Iraq, Osama?
    For months, now, word has been leaking out about the Pentagon's every-four-years master plan, the Quadrennial Defense Review.

    Finally, we’re starting to see some excerpts from the big document itself, thanks to Inside Defense. My quick, subject-to-instant-revision first impression: Rumsfeld & Co. are focusing more on China than they are on Osama.

    Very roughly speaking, there are two factions jockeying for control in the Pentagon. One thinks that the U.S. military is going to spend a big chunk of the next twenty years hunting down terrorists and stabilizing screwed-up states. The other believes that China has to be smacked down, before it bulks up to superpower status.

    The first group gets the rhetoric. “[P]repar[ing] for wider asymmetric challenges” is one of the “fundamental imperatives for the Department of Defense.” We’re in the middle of a “Long War,” according to the QDR. Iraq and Afghanistan are just part of it.

    There’s organizational and personnel help, to go along with the lofty words. The Combatant Commanders – the guys in charge today of the boots on the ground – will get more of a say in how future weapons are bought. The QDR boosts Special Operations Forces by 15% and “increase the number of Special Forces Battalions by one-third.

    U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) will establish the Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The Air Force will establish stand up an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron under USSOCOM. The Navy will support a USSOCOM increase in SEAL Team manning and will develop a riverine warfare capability. The Department will also expand Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units by 3,700 personnel, a 33% increase. Multipurpose Army and Marine Corps ground forces will increase their capabilities and capacity to conduct irregular warfare missions.

    These changes are not insignificant. They’ll require billions to back them up. But the China-watchers, on the other hand, get the kind of gold-plated new hardware that costs tens, even hundreds, of billions to make. As Inside Defense notes, the QDR “leaves intact all of the military services’ most prized weapon system programs. In fact, some programs will see significant increases.

    Many involved in the review believed at the outset that the QDR might call for a resource shift between the departments -- specifically from the Air Force and Navy to the Army -- that did not materialize.

    The Air Force, which set as its highest goal for the QDR the protection of the F-22A fighter, managed to extend production two years beyond 2008, which means it can work [on] going beyond the planned 183-aircraft buy.

    Similarly, the Navy in late November was granted permission to move ahead with its next-generation DD(X) destroyer program, which will consume a big chunk of the service’s shipbuilding account as the QDR-directed enhanced submarine procurement is set to kick in.

    …As for the Army, the QDR confirms the service has protected its top priority, the Future Combat Systems program…

    …The QDR also leaves intact the Marine Corps’ top priorities, including the V-22 Osprey and its Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle…

    “What they’ve done, in effect, is say, ‘Yeah, Rummy, we’ll make all these promises. Of course, you’re not going to be around to hold us to them. In the meantime, we will sustain our programs and build program momentum with Congress and industry,’” said a source familiar with the QDR findings.

    The China crowd also gets what looks to be some big-time new, as of yet undefined, weapons programs. That includes a new, long bomber of hypersonic drone that can conduct “global strike” missions against unruly states.

    “The United States' experience in the Cold War still profoundly influences the way that the Department of Defense is organized and executes its mission,” the QDR notes. “But, the Cold War was a struggle between nation-states, requiring state-based responses to most political problems and kinetic responses to most military problems. The Department was optimized for conventional, large-scale warfighting against the regular, uniformed armed forces of hostile states… [Today] many of the United Slates' principal adversaries are informal networks that are less vulnerable to Cold War-Style approaches... Defeating unconventional enemies requires unconventional approaches.”

    But it does not require, apparently, a wholesale change of direction. Terrorist-type threats will get some new attention. But the Defense Department isn’t about to optimize for that threat, the way it did for the Soviet Union. Big money will continue to be spent on fighter jets designed to duel with the Soviets and destroyers designed for large-scale ground assaults. Grunts on the ground won’t get much more than they do now. The war on terror may be “long.” But, apparently, it’s not important enough to make really big shifts.

    UPDATE 3:56 PM: The QDR was "toned down by a year of deliberation and not a single signature weapon system has been terminated," ubiquituous military analyst Loren Thompson tells Defense News. “That tells you that Rumsfeld’s team is not so clear about what to do about this new environment."
  2. Which implies they were clear about what to do in the old environment, which they are not.
  3. It's the easy option Andy- they know where they can find China. :)

    On a more serious note, China was number 1 on the Administration's sh1t-list when they took over in 2001. No small part of it is down to the fact that Cheney, Rummy and Rice are all old-school Cold Warriors- deep down their belief systems demand that the United States has an enemy, they're not really neo con true believers like Wolfy, Perle, Feith, Bolton etc . The head shed were happier than b@stards on fathers' day when that EP-3 had a mid-air a couple of months after they took office, as it vindicated their position. (A very good friend of mine was working as a China analyst at DIA at the time and he's now at JICPAC at Pearl Harbor- and yes as it happens his wife was very happy to trade DC for Hawai'i.)

    Rice was in the inner circle because part of Plan A was to get tough on the Russians again too. If they thought the ME was going to be the mainstay of their foreign policy during the transition, Richard Haas would have been in her place as National Security Advisor.

    Making the Middle East safe for democracy, the mantra of the neo-conservatives, fits conveniently with the envisioned competition/conflict of natural resources. In a sense, the "no-blood-for-oil" whingers were correct, but in a much more strategic sense than even they knew. It's not all about making money for Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil (although that is a happy coincidence as far as they are concerned) or keeping soccer moms' SUVs on the road. It's about keeping the veins of the Western economy open and monopolise the ability to wage war. Essentially, ideas of liberalism (in the traditional sense, not the US political sense) at the strategic level, eventually submit to mercentilist ideas at the grand strategic level.

    The big problem with this plan, IMHO is that it's not just China, but India, Latin America, Eatern Europe and the rest of the developing world that are also putting extra strain on a dwindling resource.

    With regard to program cancellation- it is ridiculously hard to do once a project has been given the green light because of a number of factors:

    1. The Revolving Door- Officers, officials and legislators leaving to go to defence contractors and quadruple their salaries. Dick Cheney was worth about $1.5m when he left the Dept of Defense in 1993. By the time he was sworn in, in 2001, he was worth around $60m- all because of the value of his Washington address book to Halliburton. The latest big name is recently retired USAF Chief Of Staff Gen John Jumper, who joined the board of Rolls Royce in November.

    2. Pork Barrell politics- the B2 was cleared for high level production after the end of the Cold War. Parts of it are manufactured in ALL 50 States. The F-22 is going to end up costing around $345m per airframe largely because of the manner in which the work is artificially divided to conform with political necessities.

    3. Out and out corruption, including but not limited to, the bribing of the chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee (Duke Cunningham).

    And we Brits think that our defence procurement system is bloated and inefficient...
  4. I know that in Brit military circles it is a bit off to claim to have know so after the event.
    For years when China was trying to join the World trade Organization I knew that they would slaughter the rest of the world on 'Basics' Production.
    For years Thailand has been full of good quality copy cat items from China. I can remember Vietnam complaining that they could not compete on price with China on foodstuffs, rice, vegatables and fruit. And thoes two cuntries are cheap places to live.
    Many years ago one of thoes Antique progs was on TV and they experts was discussing an old German toy. The guy said it came from the era when German stopped making cheap and nasty copies of quality Brit Items and graduated to making the good stuff.
    Germany, Japan, Korea, Tiawan now China, they start with cheap and nasty then graduate to high quality.
    China has been the sleeping giant. Now it wants its place at the top table.
    IMHO both China and the US want to watch their internal populace first and not each other.
    China has massive problems in it's west and the US will go Hispanic. Both will suffer massive changes. China giving up Communisam and the US giving up it's Old British Ideas on which its basic laws and traditions where founded.
    Next South America then Africa, did I say the No hope continent.
    Notice I miss out India.
  5. I agree with crabtastic. China has so many problems, and they aren't stupid enough to spend their way into Soviet-style oblivion.
    Unfortunately for the USAF and USN, B-2 bombers and Seawolf submarines are of little or no use against Osama. But you have you justify your budgets, and congressmen need those fact-finding missions to Tahiti on corporate jets.
  6. Article on Janes indicates that access to source code questions are worrying the US's allies when it comes to land ops too:

    The US Army is making moves to ensure that its allies will be able to conduct coalition operations alongside its high-tech vehicles once its next-generation ground forces start entering the field in the next decade.

    However, many allies are concerned that the US is not sharing enough information to allow them to develop compatible equipment and worry they could be left behind by the vastly superior US forces.

    The focus of concern is the army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme, which comprises 18 vehicles, robots, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles. The strength of the system, army officials say, will be not in its firepower or armour but in having more information than the enemy.

    Some US allies, however, now wonder if the ability of FCS to gather and use information will be so advanced that the US will not only be able to outmanoeuvre an enemy but also, unintentionally, render its allies' contributions obsolete.

    "If the allies are not able to share at least some information with [the US], they will be of no use; there will be such a gap between our information and [theirs]," said one allied military official in Washington. "I don't want to be stuck at the line of departure when the US is already at the objective," said another.

    US allies believe that FCS presents a challenge because the gap between FCS and the land forces of US allies will be greater than that between corresponding navies or air forces. As a consequence, the US has over the past year stepped up efforts to keep allied nations abreast of developments in the programme, allied officials have said.

    Attachés in Washington have easy access to information from prime contractor Boeing and the army on FCS, they have said, and for the first time the US held a symposium on international co-operation on the programme in 2005.

    The issue of international co-operation on the programme is still young and the parameters of discussion are only beginning to emerge.

    FCS is not likely to be as international a programme as the Joint Strike Fighter, but some other countries have been contracted to develop subsystems for some of the vehicles and will probably buy certain FCS elements when they emerge. However, the first key dispute to arise has been over how much access allies will have to the source code for the FCS network, which is necessary for allies to develop their own interoperable equipment.

    US Army officials said they have not decided what level of information on the source code they will be willing to share, but some officials worry that the US will want to simply give its allies a 'black box' to put in their equipment, implying that the US wants to take information from its allies but is less interested in sharing its own data.

    "Germany wants to remain interoperable with the European and transatlantic partners... therefore, access to the [FCS] source code and to be involved in the development of standards (such as interfaces) would be helpful," said Robert Wilhelm, a Bundeswehr spokesman.

    Colonel Robert Kelly, director of armoured vehicle project management at the Canadian Department of National Defence, added: "We're coming as a peer, so to give us a black box and say 'feed us information', that's not a peer; that's an appendage."

    In response to these concerns, Lieutenant Colonel John Zavarelli, the US Army's FCS Product Manager of the Joint Interagency and Multinational Interoperability Office, said: "We are not proscribing any solutions, ex ante. We are conducting analysis, experimentation, and disciplined systems engineering process to provide decision support to inform the path forward. Interoperability is a function of echelon, timing and resources."

    Officials from the US Army and Boeing declined to provide more specific information on what sorts of data-sharing options they are considering for their allies.

    Meanwhile, allied officials have said that, even though the initial fielding of a full FCS brigade is not scheduled until 2014, they need information soon about the standards they will need to use to develop their own compatible systems.

    "If we wait two to three years it will be too late because [the US] will be so far ahead and we will have made different choices. The more you move forward and the more we move forward, the harder it is to come to a common standard," said one of the Washington-based allied officials.

    "I need them to tell me 'These are the possible languages that we are going to choose; build your equipment so that it can take either one of them,'" said Canada's Col Kelly. "That's the stage we're at - to make sure we don't build something now and in three years the whole software guts has to be taken out of it because it can't accommodate the chosen language."
  7. ...Or maybe they are clear about what they want to do; ie they want to keep all of their toys to retain their supremacy(they hope).

    The idea that the only way the US Defense Dept can show it's on top of things would be to cancel its future weapons development and procurement probably sounds great if you hug trees, kiss bunnies and read the Guardian. As a serving soldier, I'm rather keen that DLO and DPA along with their pals in Qinetiq, Thales and BA continue to be funded in the vain hope the next generation of equipment isn't sh*t. It seems somewhat churlish to criticise the Yanks for funding weapons research.
  8. Sorry somewhat confused there - do you mean to say that India will follow China in an eventual collapse or India will actually be a stable geconomic power? If it is the later, I would remind you that India like China has its own seprartist elements, it also has own considerble internal problems in regards to factors such as poverty and religion. The Indian boom could be just as unstable as the Chinese boom.
  9. I have given up in Africa and cannot see any improvement in the next couple of hundred years. But one era they will have their chance at world leader.
    As for India we gave them a workable Cival Service, Judicery and the English language besides uniting a bunch of petty waring Princedoms.
    I agree 100% India is as unstable as China but Chin will always unite with Chin.
    India will revert to it's heathen ways and sink into turmoil until another Freindly power cums along and leads them from the morass they will desend in to.
    and apart from curry what eles have they given the world ?
    I confuse myself sometimes. Onest
  10. Bollox. China will feck up under the weight of its dodgy banks, dictatorial political system, environmental problems, and most of all inequality between the rich cities and the poor countryside and over-dependence on exports. They're investing something like 45% of earnings in fixed capital, and to keep that utilised they have to keep exports growing at a rate that would see them worth more than the US's oil bill in five years.

    Now India. That's a different story.

    More importantly, I see the QDR says Iraq is a one-off. Better be right, eh?
  11. Yes, Iran, NK and Syria will be completely different. Not forgetting Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba, which will be different again.
  12. Though I wouldn't phrase my assessment of India in such terms :wink: (as I think Indians have done much more than just give the world curry) I do wonder why some in the West see India as the answer to the 'China Problem'. If anything the inherent tensions within Indian society are probably much greater than China, you only have to go to some of the southern states to see the growing frustration.
  13. Castlereagh I am always willing to listen to other folks point of view.
    My opinion of India is old and much came from working with Indians, Tamils very hard workers and Keralans.
    I have a couple of aquaintances who visit India regulary on business and they are much of the view that India is a very racist sociaty totally screwed up with it's caste system which still exsists and the fact that light skin complextion Indians do better then the Dark skinned ones.
    One of the men had to survey/check plans for a major construction. A road was being built along the side of a railway. When their figures where entred into his computer nothing worked. It took him some time to find out that that the start point for both, which phyisically was the same, vairied massively for the two companys constructing. Niether would accept they where wrong and he left them screaming at each other.
    Indians in my personal expireance will not accept that they do make mistakes.